Cutting down the screen time of kids is a feat that most parents struggle to win! Especially, when the families are nuclear and parents are extremely busy balancing work and home, reducing the screen time of kids and substantiating that with quality time becomes a challenge.
Let’s start with some interesting data and facts:
- 71% of parents in the U.S. with children under 12 said they are concerned their child is spending too much time in front of a screen.
- 33% of teens spend more time socialising with close friends online rather than in-person interaction
- 89% of parents take responsibility for their child’s cell phone usage.
- A survey conducted by ScienceDirect on children between 2 to 17 years old says that those who spend more than seven hours a day on screens are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression or anxiety.
According to The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics, here is the optimum screen time that should be allowed to kids according to their age:
- 0-2 years – no exposure to screen
- 3-5 years - one hour per day
- 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day
What are some of the warning signs that your kid’s screen time has started taking a toll?
The child will show the following changes in behaviour:
- Avoiding to spend time with family
- Difficulty in concentrating when not using screen
- Showing aggression in sleep due to indulgence in gaming
- Declining grades in school
- Shrinking interest in friends and outdoor play
- Inability to retain information due to reliance in Google, GPS etc
Watch a webinar on managing mental health of students, an initiative by GIIS.
As parents, what are some of the immediate steps to manage or reduce the screen time of your kids.
Tips to manage screen time of kids
Be the example
Children, especially the younger ones, imitate their parents and siblings at home. So, if your hands are always occupied either with your mobile phone, tablet or TV remote, children would get the signal that it’s the right way to live. Avoid using screen during meal times, bed time or other occasions when you are with family and kids.
Plan hobby time
Everyone in the family should allocate some time to practice their hobbies, be it reading, writing, playing board games, sports or cooking. As a rule, no one should be using any gadget or screen during this time. The mobile phones and tablets should be tucked away and the focus should be on recreation.
Rely on tools to control screen time
There are various tools and apps now a days that can help you track and control the screen time of children. Using these tools, you can set a screen time limit and also the content that your child watches on internet. Most of these tools also show the watching bahaviour of your child and pinpoint to their choice of content.
Suggest interesting alternatives
Due to reliance on technology for entertainment from a young age, kids are not used to planning playtime or think of alternatives to entertain themselves. Start suggesting them interesting alternatives for their playtime that they can enjoy instead of staying glued to devices for entertainment.